Although Ryan Neal may be a new face on U Street, he’s no stranger to the vaping industry.
Neal is an electrical engineering and the maker of a brand of “box mods,” which are battery packs for e-cigarettes that produce more wattage — and therefore more vapor — than standard vaping devices.
He’s also the owner of District Vape Supply, a vape supply shop and lounge that opened at 1007 U Street NW three days ago.
“D.C. presents a lot of challenges as a small business owner, so no one really wanted to mess with the D.C. thing,” Neal said. “But I was like, I wanna mess with the D.C. thing.”
Like other vape shop owners in the District, Neal is holding his breath over a D.C. budget that could impose a 70% wholesale tax on his suppliers.
“It’s very ominous. No one is going to want to sell to us. That hundred bucks is going to cost a distributor $170 to send to us,” he said. “I don’t know if I could even afford my own juices in D.C., even with top-tier pricing.”
Neal said he agrees that there should be tax and regulation on vapor products, but that 70% is too high to do anything but drive small business out of the District.
“At the end of the day, I hope that it becomes a little bit more reasonable,” he said. “It’s above and beyond our neighboring states, and its the kind of thing you do when you want to prevent something from happening.”